Persistence Pays Off for Woman with Disability

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In honor of Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week, Vocational Rehabilitation shares the story of a woman with Spinal Muscular Atrophy who was able to find a job and her independence through VR Services.

She plays her part in this department,” says Linda. “A lot of people may play with their time, but Liz isn’t that type of person. She’s very dedicated to her responsibilities.

Newberry, FL– Born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a type of muscular dystrophy, Elizabeth Nesbitt has never walked and uses an electric wheelchair to get around. She has a strong work ethic and was determined to find a job and become independent. “I’m a very outgoing person and I don’t like to take no for an answer,” she says. “As a matter of fact, I won’t take no for an answer.” This tenacity and persistence helped Elizabeth find employment at Shands Healthcare in Gainesville as a financial counselor. Florida’s Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) provided Elizabeth with a smaller computer keyboard and a hands-free telephone headset to accommodate her needs.

Linda Neal, Elizabeth’s supervisor, is very pleased with Elizabeth’s job performance. “Elizabeth works diligently and has been our platinum performer which means she’s doing very well,” says Linda. She says that Elizabeth’s disability has not been a factor in her work. Linda has discovered what many employers of people with disabilities find that people with disabilities work harder and value their jobs more than some people without disabilities. “She plays her part in this department,” says Linda. “A lot of people may play with their time, but Liz isn’t that type of person. She’s very dedicated to her responsibilities.”

Now that Elizabeth had a job, she focused on her other long-time dream of driving a car. VR provided her with a customized van complete with keyless entry, keyless ignition and a four inch steering wheel specially designed to use less muscle power. Elizabeth is appreciative of VR’s help and support. “Without them I would not have been able to work because if I can’t drive, I can’t be independent.”

David Maus, Elizabeth’s current VR counselor, enjoys seeing his customers succeed in what they want to do. “I think she (Elizabeth) has a great attitude,” he says. “She’s overcome a lot and she is always willing to work to better herself.”

Elizabeth is continuing to increase her opportunities by finishing her bachelor’s degree, which, thanks to VR, she is able to pay for herself. “I don’t want to sit at home and draw (disability) funds,” she says. “I want to work; I enjoy working. I like to help support myself.”

About Vocational Rehabilitation
Florida’s Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) is a federal-state program committed to helping people with disabilities become part of America’s workforce. The employer-focused website,, allows businesses to search at no charge for employees who are ready to go to work, as well as to post available jobs. VR has 90 offices across Florida, and last year helped 5,194 Floridians with significant disabilities find or keep a job. For more information about VR and its services, call (800) 451-4327 or visit

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Sarah Timoti
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Florida Vocational Rehabilitation
since: 11/2012
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